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Report: Frank Vogel “coaching for his job” in wake of team’s slide

Apr 23, 2014, 12:39 PM EDT

Atlanta Hawks v Indiana Pacers - Game Two Getty Images

I’m not of the belief that Frank Vogel forgot how to coach over the All-Star break. Sure, the drinks are strong in New Orleans, but not THAT strong. Vogel had spent years building a team first system in Indiana that worked well when guys bought in, but when Roy Hibbert started to slump to Kendrick Perkins offensive levels, and when other guys started breaking out of the system, it all came apart. That includes a Game 1 loss to the Hawks in the first round of the playoffs (the Pacers bounced back for a Game 2 win).

Vogel could not easily right the ship — he tends to be inflexible and the Pacers stick to their script no matter what — but how much of this is really on him?

Apparently some in Indiana think a lot.

Vogel is coaching to save his job, reports Marc Stein at ESPN.

Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that Vogel, despite a 56-win season that secured the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, is “coaching for his job” in the wake of Indiana’s alarming slide that has stretched into its third month.

Following Indiana’s 101-85 triumph over Atlanta in Game 2 of the teams’ first-round series, sources told ESPN.com that coming back to win the series against the Hawks would not automatically ensure Vogel’s safety….

The decision on whether to retain Vogel at season’s end ultimately rests with Pacers president Larry Bird, sources said, but frustration throughout the organization has been mounting thanks to a nosedive that began in February with a loss in Orlando just before the All-Star break and has show few signs of abating.

If the Pacers make the mistake of firing Vogel other teams will be lined up to grab him. Vogel has shown he can build a culture and system that, with the right players, can win a lot of games and go deep in the playoffs (they made the Eastern Conference Finals last season). You think a building program like Utah could use that kind of guy? And that’s just one example.

Vogel built a system designed around Roy Hibbert’s size and defense that is designed to shut off penetration, that is big and physical. He doesn’t like to vary from that. Which has worked quite well for the Pacers, until the second half of this season. However, in Game 2 we saw adjustments from the PacersPaul George on Jeff Teague, switching pick-and-rolls to stop Pero Antic and Paul Millsap from having uncontested threes — but ones that stayed within their identity.

Bird might want to look in the mirror — his moves at the deadline to help this team simply did not. Evan Turner has been a bust, unable to really play in the Indy system (and losing Danny Granger was an emotional blow to the locker room). Andrew Bynum didn’t really hurt this team but if you had any expectations he would help them you hadn’t watched a lot of Bynum in the last couple years.

Vogel is not blameless in the slide, something else Stein, with the help of Chris Broussard, writes about:

ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard reports that sources with knowledge of the Pacers’ locker room dynamic have been insisting for months that Indiana would miss the presence of assistant coach Brian Shaw, who left the club last summer to become the Denver Nuggets’ head man.

Broussard reports that, with Vogel known for being “completely positive” in his approach to dealing with players, Shaw often played the role of “bad cop” and helped keep the Pacers’ potentially volatile locker room from imploding. Shaw’s absence didn’t appear to be an issue early this season, but some insiders believe his absence has been felt during the Pacers’ splintering over the past few months.

That said the issues in Indy are more about the players on the roster and the lack of shot creators far more than it is coaching or styles.

Indy seemed to find some footing in their Game 2 win over the Hawks, but it’s just the first step on a long road to recovery. A road that has a good Washington team (they are good when Nene plays) standing in the way.

But this season is not close to something Vogel should be fired over.

  1. Andee - Apr 23, 2014 at 12:49 PM

    He would be a large improvement over MD’A in Los Angeles.

  2. 12444uggg - Apr 23, 2014 at 12:52 PM

    Vogel deserves some criticism for being less willing to adjust his schemes, but this isn’t all on him. He’s not 7’2 and shooting 1-7. He didn’t bring in Bynum or trade Granger. He didn’t fist fight with his teammates. He didn’t shame himself with a cell phone. ect ect.

  3. gostlcards5 - Apr 23, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    Agreed. I love Larry (did as a player, coach, and now as a GM), but he is as much to blame as Frank Vogel is.

  4. aboogy123456 - Apr 23, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    This is really the hardest team to coach in my opinion, and the only guy that I could see being able to handle all these egos is phil, but that’s not an option. When your center is constantly complaining to the media and has obviously given up because he doesn’t like that a couple other players are ballhogs, you have problems. I’ve been saying this for two years now, the pacers need a floor general, a real point guard. They don’t have to be good, but someone who can take care of the ball and dictate where it goes on offense. They have a lot of talent but George hill doesn’t know how to take advantage of it.

    • realfootballfan - Apr 23, 2014 at 9:05 PM

      Phil wouldn’t coach them even if he was still wanting to coach. This team doesn’t have enough scoring. That’s not going to change and that’s why they won’t win anything when you look back on this group in 3 or 4 years and wonder what happened as they slide back into oblivion.

  5. 1972wasalongtimeago - Apr 23, 2014 at 2:01 PM

    Y’all flew too close to the sun.

    • Gordon - Apr 23, 2014 at 2:13 PM

      …on wings of pastrami.

      • fanofthegame79 - Apr 23, 2014 at 2:53 PM

        I’m hungry….stop it!

  6. antistratfordian - Apr 23, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    Bird’s offseason moves to bolster the bench were universally praised, so what happened there? I think Bird mentioned the failure of the bench specifically when talking about how he was disappointed in the team – along with saying Vogel wasn’t doing enough to correct players and keep players motivated – so they obviously don’t see eye-to-eye.

    But this space cannot really criticize Bird for the Turner trade because everyone here lauded the move when it happened. So I don’t want to hear another word about it, unless you were like me and accurately predicted its failure at the time.

    • kb2408 - Apr 23, 2014 at 2:24 PM

      “So I don’t want to hear another word about it, unless you were like me and accurately predicted it’s failure at the time”, dude, you get off on how many thumbs down you can get, don’t you? Ok, I’m your HuckleBerry, one thumbs down from me!

      • antistratfordian - Apr 23, 2014 at 2:58 PM

        kb2408 – Feb 20, 2014 at 5:36 PM:

        “Dude, you have a really weird way of looking at things. Look, it is simple, ET is better then DG at this point in their careers. Indy just traded for a player that is playing for a big contract and now has a real good chance to win a title. IMO he is gonna ball out! Indy is clearly a better team now and Bird is brilliant.”

        You lose.

    • bucrightoff - Apr 23, 2014 at 2:47 PM

      No he’s just a straight troll. We’d all be better off ignoring him, as thumsb down/negative comments towards him is all he is looking for. Oh and to shower LeBron’s nuts with love too.

    • pacersfan1 - Apr 23, 2014 at 3:22 PM

      Please troll under another bridge. As for Frank fighting for his job. That is the most craziest think I have heard. It always seems that the mother ship always has insiders that never will put there name on it. The machine needs stories to poop out. Even if they make things up and then call them sources. Chris douchshart always loves to bang on the pacers when he does’t have his heat Pom Pom out. Frank has made this team better every year after bill o was fired. If the heat lose tonight will the mothership say that their pretend coach is fighting for his job?

      • antistratfordian - Apr 23, 2014 at 3:46 PM

        “If the heat lose tonight will the mothership say that their pretend coach is fighting for his job?”

        The Pacers are not the Heat. The Heat are back-to-back champions. Spoelstra is 1 of only 7 coaches to win back-to-back rings. Spo’s leash and Vogel’s leash are different lengths. Vogel’s is far shorter.

        So, no, Spo is safe regardless of what happens tonight or what happens this season.

      • packergator - Apr 24, 2014 at 9:29 AM

        Spo is a pretend coach with back-to-back rings? Do you know how many roads could be paved with teams with historically great players that didn’t even win one ring? Is he Phil Jackson yet? No. But even Phil wasn’t Phil until he put together several rings – with MJ pulling the strings on the court.

    • realfootballfan - Apr 23, 2014 at 9:07 PM

      I want to know who lauded it. Turner is a worse version of what they already had. They needed more players who could get their own shot, which he can’t do and couldn’t do in Philly.

      • gostlcards5 - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:59 PM

        I lauded it. ET is better equipped to get his own shot than Granger was. It doesn’t mean the move was good, but I understood why Larry took the shot. I also think because ET has struggled to score consistently and to work effectively within the defense, it still doesn’t mean the move was a bust. We’ll see how things go as the team moves forward.

    • urodaddy07 - Apr 24, 2014 at 9:11 PM

      I think if they hang on to Turner into next season he will become a very productive guy off the bench.The Pacers need the scoring. The problem is Pacers were already a contender before he got there, so for them to do worse than they did last year makes it a poorly timed trade. it’s not a bad trade, just bad timing. They needed someone to fit in and produce right off the bat. Just hasn’t worked out that way

      • antistratfordian - Apr 24, 2014 at 9:30 PM

        But you forget that they were already going through a bumpy patch before the trade. I made this comment about the trade at the time, “Seems like the Pacers might a little desperate because of the funk they’re in.”

        So a decline was already happening.

        Even if they kept Granger I think Hibbert and Paul George still would’ve slumped and the players would’ve still been talking about how they’re not used to being the ones with the target on their back.

  7. beach305 - Apr 23, 2014 at 2:51 PM

    I expect Lance and possibly Hibbert to be traded next season. While fans may love Stephenson antics, they cause more problems than they are worth on and off the court. To me West and PG are the only secure players on this roster next season.

    • gostlcards5 - Apr 24, 2014 at 2:01 PM

      I don’t agree. I think that Hibbert is secure. Clearly, he needs to mature some, but the potential he has shown is too great to ditch him now.

      As for Lance, I think they still find a way to resign him also. Time will tell.

  8. rainmaker1982 - Apr 23, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    It would be a shame if he gets fired. The Pacers have good players, but nobody that’s great.

    And Vogel has made this team into a contender for the 2nd straight year.

    However, they will lose to the Heat in the conference finals (if they’re lucky to get there).

    • pacersfan1 - Apr 23, 2014 at 4:06 PM

      Are you talking about the heat being luck if they get to the confrence finals? And as for making predictions. I will let the games play out.

  9. dablakdrphil - Apr 23, 2014 at 6:56 PM

    If Pacers don’t make it to the Finals I think there could be some trades in the work, Too talented of a team to hit a wall this badly for almost 3 months now

    Frank Vogel should NOT lose his job regardless of what happens and if he does get fired we in LA will happily have him

    • packergator - Apr 24, 2014 at 9:33 AM

      It wouldn’t be Vogel’s fault – even this year the Heat are just the better team. They have more guys that can manufacture offense even when the D isn’t stellar.

  10. realfootballfan - Apr 23, 2014 at 9:02 PM

    But I thought he talked to Larry Bird, lol?

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